CRANSTON — The Injury Fund is supposed to be a building block for football teams.
The two-quarter exhibition should give coaches a better idea of who’s been practicing well for the first three weeks of training camp and who needs a little more work on their conditioning or technique with the regular season about to commence
To that end, Cranston West, Cranston East, West, Warwick and Coventry all found out a little more about themselves Saturday at Cranston Stadium. The only team to walk away from the Injury Fund not exactly sure what they have is Exeter-West Greenwich.
Sure, the Knights believe they will be contending for a playoff spot in Division IV, but it wasn’t based on their play at the Stadium.
Instead of playing a lower-division team like many D-IV teams did over the weekend, the Knights were matched up with potential Division I champion Cranston East.
The result of the two-quarter contest was predictable and not at all helpful for EWG coach Steve Alves. The Thunderbolts used their high-powered offense to score five touchdowns, while the Knights didn’t amass a first down in the opening quarter of the 35-0 defeat.
“It was a character test there for a while to see how the kids would respond to adversity and respond to being down,” Alves said. “We obviously have a lot to work on and we have a lot of green out there; a lot of young kids that you just hope every day get better.
“… They’re in Division I for a reason. Their school has more boys than we have students. I don’t know who lines these things up. I don’t know what (Cranston East) got out if it, maybe they needed us to sell tickets. There are 40 teams in Rhode Island. I don’t know why a Division IV team plays a Division I team in a half a game.”
It was the second straight year the Thunderbolts and Knights matched up in Cranston, but last year the Knights didn’t see East’s starters. Instead, the Knights saw the backups while East saved its starters for a matchup with Coventry later in the evening.
Saturday, East played its starters for most of the contest and then used its starters again to beat Coventry 43-33. EWG played its starters, but Alves was without talented linemen Ryan and Matt Ricard. Without the duo the Knights struggled to keep East’s tenacious defense away from quarterback Jacob Hornoff and running back Dwight Anderson.
“We just need to get healthy and get better,” Alves said. “Some of our coaches went out and saw some of the round robins and saw some things that might work for us in our division. If we’re healthy I think we might be OK.”
EWG received the opening kickoff, but the Knights didn’t keep the ball for long. After two Anderson runs and an incomplete pass netted just one yard, the Thunderbolts took control of the ball. Cranston East All-State quarterback Rob Corvese scored a two-yard touchdown for all the points East would need.
The Knights’ second offensive drive wasn’t much better than the first. Hornoff carried the ball on a designed quarterback run for three yards. Anderson lost a yard on the next carry and a pass intended for Ian Geyer was incomplete.
Cranston East standout Marven Beauvius returned the ensuing punt 47 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 14-0.
“I’m just disappointed we couldn’t really move the ball at all,” Alves said. “I’m not saying we had to match them touchdown for touchdown, but we needed to move the ball and have some success on offense.”
It looked like EWG was going to have to punt the ball again when Hornoff was sacked to bring up a 3rd-and-23 situation from the EWG 13. But the Knights had a play up their sleeve as Anderson ran a wheel route and reeled in a 33-yard pass from Hornoff near the left hash marks.
“On the previous play we saw that something like that would be open,” Alves said. “We’re also trying to see if some of our bread-and-butter plays were working.”
EWG’s drive stalled out after two Hornoff runs and an incomplete pass.
East scored three more touchdowns in the one-sided contest. Even though EWG gave up five touchdowns, senior linemen Carl Neff and Zach Anderson kept the Cranston East running game at bay for the most of the contest.
The Knights will get a better idea of where they stand with the D-IV season a week away when they visit East Greenwich Friday night. The Avengers reached the Division III Super Bowl last year and return all-division quarterback Andrew Miner and running back Carney Crawford.